Business Is Personal!
by Bryan J. Neva, Sr.
"It's nothing personal, it's just business!" so says the popular cliché which has crept into the very fabric of Corporate America. The actual quote, however, is attributed to a 1930s gangster named Otto Berman and was popularized in the 1969 Mario Puzo novel The Godfather and the subsequent movies of the same title.
It's as if using this cliché somehow absolves or justifies a person or Corporate America of their bad or uncompassionate behavior towards others; it's a way of dehumanizing others by not acknowledging normal human emotions or needs; it's a way of telling victims that if they show any kind of emotions at all then they're unprofessional, overly sensitive, or not management material; it's a way for managers to look themselves in the mirror every day after they've screwed their customers, employees, suppliers, or other stakeholders in the business.
Typically people who live by this cliché have little if any emotions themselves, and there's a name for this type of dysfunctional behavior: it's called psychopathy! Having some degree of psychopathy does not necessarily mean that one is a criminal or serial killer, it just means they exhibit certain antisocial, dysfunctional, or abnormal personality traits such as a lack of emotions, empathy, or remorse; they also may exhibit egotistical, narcissistic, or amoral behavior.
Studies have shown that a high percentage of business leaders exhibit some degree of psychopathic behavior. That's why they usually rise fast in organizations where greed is good and a winner-take-all, profit-at-any-price mentality exists. Even in the public sector where salaries are a pittance compared to the private sector, psychopathic behavior is high among those in positions of power where power-at-any-price is the name of the game. Just look at the people in positions of power within the State and Federal government and decide for yourself.
The fact-of-the-matter is that business is personal! Because human beings are social animals, people don't normally live totally detached from all human contact. People do business with people; people work with other people; organizations are made up of people; monetary transactions occur between people; deals are made between people; marriages are between people; relationships are formed between people; anytime people interact, whether it be a casual encounter or when conducting business, they're personally interacting. So how could you honestly believe the cliché it's nothing personal, it's just business? You really couldn't; that is, unless you're a psychopath like the gangster Otto Berman!